Millennials, those born in the final decades of the twentieth century, have had bad press for a long time. Now they are fighting back as they come of age in a world radically changed from that experienced by previous generations.
Even the oldest were still in primary school when the Soviet Union collapsed, when deregulation swept the West and much of the postwar consensus was jettisoned, when the Kyoto Protocol was signed and when the internet became a reality and the world shrank. They were in their teens when the World Trade Center collapsed, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan produced a new world order; when climate-change sceptics and shock jocks poisoned public debate; when the first dot-com boom crashed, China experimented with capitalism and revived consumerism, the global financial crisis pushed capitalism to the brink, and Facebook was born.
The challenges this generation now face are great – political uncertainty, climate change, globalisation and economic stagnation have changed the rules of the game.
This is the best educated, most connected generation ever, but the world they live in does not offer easy pathways – inequality is rife and traditional doors are closed. Some millennials are detached and disillusioned, but others are coming up with innovative ideas, experimenting with new ways to live and work. Their vision and energy will shape the future.
This special edition of Griffith Review is devoted to the challenges and opportunities this generation is facing and embracing. It is co-edited by Julianne Schultz and Jerath Head.